PALO ALTO, CA: Topix.net is entering the world of citizen journalism with a plan to allow readers of the site to not only comment on mainstream news, but to submit news items of their own as well.
Chris Tolles, VP of marketing for Topix, said the decision was based largely on the fact that successful websites, such as craigslist.org and myspace.com, rely on user-generated content.
"There is an increasing expectation of interaction [with Internet content]," he said. Topix includes news articles in 360,000 topics, 30,000 of which are location based. The focused nature of the site is something Tolles said could be beneficial to marketers. "For a PR professional, it will be another arrow in the quiver, especially if you're trying to reach a niche audience," he noted.
Citing the "sea change" in media, he added that consumers are expecting more from media these days, something PR practitioners also have to take into consideration.
"At this point in time, if you're trying to keep up with your industry, it's not good enough to read the blogs anymore," he said. "You have to read the comments on the blogs." Lloyd Trufelman, president of Trylon Communications, agreed that the development could make Topix a good place for PR practitioners to find the reaction to a particular story about their client.
"It could give you a 'quick and dirty' tool to see how [an issue] playing out to the marketplace," he added. However, he noted that an environment in which consumers or PR practitioners can post comments to a story could "leave the door open for deliberate obfuscation." Tolles noted that Topix does edit posts for language and will address other issues as they arise. Topix is jointly owned by Gannett, Tribune, and Knight Ridder.